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The Beverly Hillbillies - The Ultimate Collection Volume 2


TITLE: THE BEVERLY HILLBILLIES - THE ULTIMATE COLLECTION VOLUME 2


Info:

DVD Release Date: February 28, 2006 (MPI Home Video)
B&W/1963-1964
MSRP: $34.98
Number of Discs: 4
Number of Episodes: 27
Running Time: 720 minutes
Total Run Time of Special Features: approximately 40 minutes
Languages, Subtitles, Closed Captioning: English subtitles
Special Features: Original Cast Sponsor Commercials; The Beverly Hillbillies in Japanese; Commentary on "Giant Jackrabbit" episode; Interviews from Max Baer, Irene Ryan (archive footage), and Paul Henning (archive footage)


Introduction:

Get out the ce-ment pond and look at what I have here! The Beverly Hillbillies: The Ultimate Collection Volume 2 is the second (and unfortunately, MPI's last) volume release of the hit fish-out-of-water sitcom about America's favorite hillbillies that live in one of the greatest neighborhoods in the United States.

The Beverly Hillbillies is probably one of the most over-released shows available for DVD (since many, MANY public domain companies release the series), but the MPI releases (which, I should add, are AUTHORIZED releases unlike the rest) stand out above all of the rest. These sets provide much better video and audio quality than the rest, provide special features that are actually interesting to watch, and include the ORIGINAL theme music (something that other releases are missing).


Episode Highlights:

Volume 2 picks up right where Volume 1 left off, near the end of the first season. The set begins with "Jed Pays His Income Tax," which is mainly just a clip show remembering the first episode of the series. Next is the episode "The Clampetts and the Dodgers," an episode in which Leo Durocher discovers Jethro's talent for pitching... but all goes wrong when he finds out that Jethro has been using a performance enhancer... possum fat! Jim Backus makes a guest appearance in "The Clampetts Entertain." The Clampetts get psychoanalyzed in "The Clampetts Get Psychoanalyzed" and "The Psychiatrist Gets Clampetted." Jethro meets a new friend at school (who is the complete opposite of the Clampetts) in "Jethro's Friend." Look for Hayden Rorke in that episode. Other first season episodes included in this set are "Duke Becomes a Father," "The Clampetts in Court," and "Elly Becomes a Secretary."

Season two begins with the episodes "Jed Gets the Misery" and "Hair-Raising Holiday," in which Granny is feeling depressed about not being able to continue her practice as a physician in Beverly Hills. The Clampetts start a fashion trent in "The Clampett Look." Another J.D. Clampett (one that has been a failure in life) suddenly finds himself millions of dollars richer due to a bank mistake in "The Clampetts are Overdrawn." Mrs. Drysdale finds out that the hard way that the Clampetts are more exciting partiers than she is in "The Garden Party." The family decides to move back home after Jethro is kicked out of school (but of course, Mr. Drysdale won't allow THAT to happen) in "The Clampetts Get Culture." Next, we have "The Giant Jackrabbit," in which Granny finds a kangaroo in the backyard and believes it is, well, a giant jackrabbit. This episode, though many fans can't understand why (there was nothing extraordinary about this episode) holds a very special distinction that no other show has claimed to this date--it holds the record for the highest rated half hour episode of any show, EVER. Lafe Crick shows up, and wants Jethro to marry his daughter (so he can get some of Jed's money) in "The Girl From Home" and "Lafe Lingers On." Other season 2 episodes included are "Granny's Garden," "Elly Starts to School," "Jethro's First Love," "Chickadee Returns," "The Clampetts Go to Hollywood," "Turkey Day," "Elly Needs a Maw," "A Man for Elly," and "The Race for Queen." By the way, episode 50, "Christmas at the Clampetts" is not included in this set, because it was already included in the MPI Christmas episodes release that contained both The Beverly Hillbillies and Petticoat Junction.


Packaging:

There isn't a lot to say here, because there really isn't much to the packaging and also, the packaging is virtually identical to the packaging for Volume 1. The packaging style used is once again a thick Amaray case, but the inside of it is a lot better this time. There are four discs, with two of the discs having their own holder within the case, and a two-sided middle panel that holds Discs 2 and 3. The cover art is very simplistic, just the Clampett clan with a purple background.

The thing that is missing this time that is vital for a DVD set is episode listings. Nowhere on the set does it indicate where you can find which episodes. This is a bit of a nuisance for sets when they aren't there, but for something like this, where the collection being released isn't consistent with season numbers and such, this is vital, and the lack of any episode listings makes this set a bit frustrating. Volume 1 had a pamphlet with this information. As for the breakdown of the set, Discs 1-3 contain 7 episodes each and Disc 4 contains 6 episodes.


Menu Design and Navigation:

Just like the packaging, the menus have not changed for this set. When you put the disc in, the closing music plays with various scenes from the show, and then a main menu comes up with options for Play, Episodes, Subtitles, and Bonus Features (only on Disc 4), all of which are rather self-explanatory. The Episodes menus are the same too, with a small picture from each episode on the menu.

Once again, there is no scene selection menu, and also, there are no chapters within the episodes.


Video and Audio Quality:

I should first say about the video quality that no matter what else I say about it, it is generally pretty good--much better than the video quality of other DVD releases of the show, but perhaps not as good as the video quality on WGN episodes. The major problems (which seem to be more problematic in this set than the last one) are grain and vertical lines... everywhere. Audio quality is not as much of an issue, because the audio quality is as good as one would expect for a show that is over 40 years old. Clearly, the audio is in mono, but it sounds pretty clear (though obviously not perfect). For the hearing impaired, English subtitles are available.

The episodes all run at roughly 25:30, so they are (presumably) uncut. Some of the sponsorship elements that are not integral to the plots of the episodes seem to be missing, but then again, Disc 4 seems to contain most of these in a separate special feature. It would be nice if those were inserted back into their proper place within the episodes, but then again, it shouldn't be expected for any company to even include these at ALL, so the fact that they are even included is a rare treat.


Special Features:

The sponsorships are back again for every episode... and the sponsors are still Winston Cigarettes and Kellogg's, rotating their sponsorship on each episode. These sponsorships are found in these short tags placed immediately after the opening credits, as well as in the bottom left hand corner of the screen on the closing credits. On Disc 4, there are additional Cast Commercials (25:00). This seems to just be the parts of the episodes that I referred to in the previous section that advertised the products, but had nothing to do with the plot of the respective episode. Some of these are boring to sit through, but there were two that I found pretty interesting, such as the first one where the Clampetts (and Miss Jane) were singing a song about supporting American farmers, and talking about why America should be so proud since Americans spend less on groceries than Russians do. Another one that I liked was a Winston promo in which Granny was loading up on cigarettes for a "rainy day" and had probably 100 packs of Winston in a cabinet in the kitchen--talk about being addicted to smoking! It is pretty amazing really that these hillbillies that understand nothing about mainstream American culture know so much about a specific brand of cigarettes, but then again, it IS just television. In addition to all of this, some episodes even have public service announcements at the end of the episode.

Next we have "The Beverly Hillbillies in Japanese," (4:01) which is a very odd feature to watch--you can hear the Clampetts talk in Japanese on various scenes from various episodes! The video quality is horrible on it, but it is nonetheless interesting. For some reason, Jed's voice kind of sounded more like Fred Sanford than Jed, but then again, hillbilly accents don't exactly translate into Japanese.

Next, there is an audio commentary for one of the episodes ("Giant Jackrabbit") by Stephen Cox, who wrote a book about the series several years ago. I'm not a big fan of these commentaries where just one person talks like this, but he does provide a lot of trivia about the show in general that most people may not know, such as how Granny's wig and glasses have been preserved and are likely to be submitted to the Smithsonian sometime in the near future.

The remaining special features are all interviews--but don't be excited, because most of these are old stock footage interviews, although they may very well be rare interviews. The only "new" interview on here is an interview with Max Baer Jr. (6:32) in which he talks about the show in general, just as he did on the Volume 1 set. Since Max Baer could do this, why couldn't he have joined Stephen Cox to make the "Giant Jackrabbit" commentary more exciting? Oh well. Next, there is a 1966 Irene Ryan "interview" from the show Talent Scouts with Art Linkletter (4:41). I say "interview" because this isn't REALLY an interview, but rather just Art Linkletter showing Irene Ryan footage from episodes of The Beverly Hillbillies that are dubbed in Japanese as well as some dubbed in Spanish, and getting her reaction--not incredibly exciting. The final interview (though old) is pretty good though... a 1969 interview with Paul Henning (8:15), discussing the show as well as his career in general. I'm not sure what this interview is from; however, it makes no indication of that anywhere on the set or within the interview.

The special features aren't nearly as impressive this time (the only new interview this time is the one from Max Baer), but still, the features are pretty good.


Final Comments:

It is sad that this will be MPI's last release of the show. They have done such a great job in the way that they have handled the release of the earlier episodes, especially in regards to special features. Rumor is that Paramount will be releasing the show on DVD at some unknown date, but there is no word on exactly what they will be handling the release, such as whether they will start over with the first season or pick up where MPI left off. Paramount would likely do a little bit of a better job of restoring the video quality of episodes, but the DVD sets in general probably will not be as good when (if) they release the series, because they probably won't put as much attention into details such as special features and sponsorship elements of the show. Honestly, I'd prefer to see MPI do the rest of the series, even if it does mean slightly compromised video quality (don't get me wrong, the video quality is NOT "atrocious"), but in a world of copyrights and competing interests, it seems Paramount may have plans all on their own and will leave MPI out of that equation. Hopefully, though, no matter what, later episodes will be released by somebody, and whoever does it will do a good job with them, and include special features such as the ones included on these MPI releases. But until then, get these Beverly Hillbillies sets--they are more than worth it.


Final Numbers (out of 5 stars - How our point system works)

Video Quality: 3.5/5
Audio Quality: 4/5
Special Features: 3.5/5
Menu Navigation/Design: 4.5/5
Overall: 4/5

-- Reviewed by skees53 on 01/24/06

To purchase the DVD, click below and help support SitcomsOnline.com:

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/B000BT96OG/ref=nosim/happydaysonline4-20


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